Steven Taukobong – Botswana

Steven Taukobong – Botswana


Date: July 1, 2015
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I am a pastor with the evangelical church based in Selebi Phikwe. What I see in my work is that people don’t understand marriage. They misinterpret culture, and this creates a lot of confusion. They think men must have power over women. In the month of January alone, I’ve already covered 52 cases of domestic violence. It’s a huge problem in the community.

I provide counseling on issues related to gender in the community; I’m one of the few pastors who voluntarily provides counseling, and I also take part int he minister’s fraternity, which deals with marriage counseling. This links to the work of many NGOs, the Botswanan council of churches, and others who work on these issues.

The biggest challenge we see in Selebi Phikwe is that people come to the police; couples have fought, maybe there have been threats or misunderstandings. Within the context of relationships and marriages, you see people fight. People don’t understand the reality of a relationship. It’s only through a lot of work that everyone can see that it takes two people, working together.

Nowadays, you see that before marriage, a partnership is fine. Two people get along well, they like each other, there are no problems. But after marriage, there’s a dramatic change. There’s an expectation that now the man will have power; this is where the problems begin, with physical abuse, verbal abuse, and so on.

I help people see the bigger picture of their lives, and know their purpose. They need to live together in harmony. Here in Selebi Phikwe, we have the highest rate of HIV / Aids prevalence in the country, and it’s so important that we help people understand their lives; how they can make decisions for themselves, and say no to things that aren’t right for them. As a pastor, it is a challenge, but also an opportunity. I reach so many people. By working with youth and married people, I can reach the whole community.

I can really say that my work and Gender Links, we are one thing. One thing that I like the most is that Gender Links is there to help people see. To open their eyes. To understand things better. This is also my mission. If I look at Botswana, and compare it to another country where people talk a lot about domestic violence, the same things happen here, but people are silent. This is abuse in the worst sense. You find a woman holding a degree, and the man won’t let her work; that’s where it begins, and this is where we must stand strong, as men, and as women. We must see how we can work collectively.

Any time I talk about Gender Links, I talk about men and women working together, in partnership. One thing that always engages me is that growing up, some things really shaped me. My father was a very strong figure. I took this for granted, and assumed it was part of life. Only later did I realize that my mother was pretending that everything was okay, but in fact, she was a very strong woman herself. When my father passed away, I saw her freedom. She never had the opportunity to say, I can do that. I want to make sure other women are empowered, to see their own strength, and know what they can do.

I also was deeply affected by missionaries, who grew up in a different culture. In some places, it’s normal for men to learn how to take care of kids. They see it as their responsibility to teach them how to be, and have the knowledge they need to succeed. There are so many ways of working together, and we should go in a direction that respects the strength in every human being.

I see so much in my future. I’m talking with others on gender based issues, in Africa and Europe. We will talk about families. By looking outside Africa, we can really help learn about the things we take for granted about the roles of men and women. We are trying to learn about ourselves, and about others. This is a long journey for me, and there is so much to do. But really, I see us all working together.

 


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